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Thursday, 10 June 2021

More about street renaming

A couple of post back I wrote about the recent push to rename streets.

I've encountered dozens - maybe hundreds - of street renamings in my time writing this blog. Many feel there was something very formal about street naming or renaming and I've found that it couldn't be further from the truth, at least in the city' earliest decades. (Here's just one example.)

Doing some research on a building in Wolseley, I found these two maps just a year apart that show the neighbourhood being developed and the avenue names changing. On the left, Robert McPhillips' 1910 map, has Ida, Bath, and Ayr. Hathaway's 1911 map on the right shows them as Wolseley, no name, and Westminster.

My guess is that the original names were of settlers who had land in the area and as their properties got carved up some of the lanes and access roads were named for them.

The change to Westminster was obviously due to Westminster Church constructed in 1911 - 1912. (In the West End, Livinia Street was renamed St. Matthews Avenue when the church was built on it.)

As for Wolseley Avenue, it likely has to do with the fact that some of the men / families that settled in the area came out under John Garnet Wolseley and were given land there when they retired. Naming it Wolseley would have been a way of recognizing all of them.

The reason I think this is because years earlier this happened on some land further east.

Mulligan Street was named that because it ran through John Mulligan's estate. When city took over his land and subdivided it for urban development, they changed the name to Sherbrooke Street as Mulligan once fought under John Sherbrooke Coape.

It must have been a fun and hectic time to be a mapmaker at the time with new neighbourhoods springing up every year and existing ones, like Wolseley, being properly subdivided which often lead to small changes in street lengths and revised street names.

It should be noted that these maps were really a combination of maps and plans and things don't always turn out as the plans say. McPhillips' map, for instance, shows a "school site" at Westminster and Ruby, but no school was ever built there.

Later urban development also has an impact. For instance, Broadway ended at Maryland Street until the 1960s when it was pushed through to Portage Avenue. That would have impacted the streets in that corner of the neighbourhood when the bulldozers were sent in.

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